Civilians With High-Tech Skills Needed to Counter Islamic State

Civilians With High-Tech Skills Needed to Counter Islamic State by Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press

A decade ago, he was a young Army soldier training Iraqi troops when he noticed their primitive filing system: handwritten notes threaded with different colors of yarn, stacked in piles. For organization's sake, he built them a simple computer database.

Now an Army reservist, the major is taking a break from his civilian high-tech job to help America's technological fight against Islamic State group. He's part of a growing force of experts the Pentagon has assembled to defeat the extremists.

"The ability to participate in some way in a real mission, that is actually something that's rare, that you can't find in private sector," said the 38-year-old Nebraska native who is working at U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. "You're part of a larger team putting your skills to use, not just optimizing clicks for a digital ad, but optimizing the ability to counter ISIS or contribute to the security of our nation."

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed frustration that the United States was losing the cyberwar against the militants. He pushed the Cyber Command to be more aggressive. In response, the Pentagon undertook an effort to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy's communications, recruiting, fundraising and propaganda.

To speak with someone at the front lines of this campaign, The Associated Press agreed to withhold the major's name. The military says he could be threatened or targeted by the militants if he is identified publicly. The major and other officials wouldn't provide precise details on the highly classified work he is doing…

Read on.

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